Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Dry Legumes help!
06-07-2011, 05:00 PM
I am new to cooking and am grossed out by how much sodium is in canned beans. I bought a truck load of dried beans and lentils, but I don't know how to prepare them.
I have tried boiling the lentils (red and green) in twice as much water. The red lentils fall apart, the green are still hard. And today when I made a concoction of green lentils, canned black beans and home made salsa for lunch- I opened the container and it looked all frothy, so I didn't eat lunch :(
I'm looking for any help anyone can provide, I'm desperate and have lots of beans!
06-07-2011, 05:40 PM
The "froth" is entirely normal. I've been told that it's a reaction with the protein - just like the "scum" that can leak out of fish and meat.
The red lentils fell apart because you cooked them too long, and the green were hard because you didn't cook them long enough.
Cooking beans and lentils is a little tricky. You can make two batches of the same type of beans on different days using the same amount of water, on the same heat and you can get different results as far as the time it takes to cook and how much water is needed. Sometimes the beans/lentils will be tender before all the water is absorbed, and you'll have to drain off the extra water.
There are two easy, virtually foolproof methods of cooking legumes that are perfect for the beginnner.
1. Cooking them like pasta. Bring a pot of water or broth to a boil (start with at least 5 times as much water as dried beans/peas/lentils - you can use less water as you get better at judging how much water the beans will absorb). You can add a little salt to the water, or bouillon cubes/poweder. Add your beans and when it returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the beans are tender and then drain off the cooking water (or save it to use as a soup base).
There's no need to presoak, but larger and denser beans will cook faster if you soak them the night before. Lentils will usually disintegrate if you presoak them.
2. Rince your beans/peas/lentils and put them in a crockpot. There's no need or advantage to presoaking. I don't even soak large, dense beans when I'm using the crockpot.
Add about three to four parts liquid to one part beans/peas/lentils (you may later decide you want to use less or more).
You can cook on low or on high, but the cooking time can vary a lot in a crockpot, depending on the cooking temp (of course) but also on the characteristics of the bean/pea/lentil (larger, denser, and drier beans will take longer to cook. Some lentil varieties cook really fast, others aren't all that much quicker than beans).
You don't want to check on the crockpot too often, because lifting the lid will drop the temperature and prolong your cooking time, but whenever I'm cooking with a new dried legume, I usually check the first time at the 2 hour mark (when cooking on high) and at the 4 hour mark (when cooking on low) and then cut that in half for further checks (checking every hour, cooking on low - and checking every two hours cooking on high) until I know what to expect from the variety of bean.
I made a huge pot of lima beans (medium size, white, very hard dried) the other day. I just put the beans in the crockpot with some water and chicken bouillon powder, turned the crockpot on low and let it cook overnight. I overslept so they were a bit overcooked in the morning, but because I cooked on low and used a lot of extra water, there was no damage done. They were a little more tender than I like them, but they didn't fall apart completely or stick to the crock pot. That's why I use the extra water. I'd rather drain off cooking water than have to scrub baked-on bean crud out of the crockpot.
You can actually cook rice this way too.
I usually make beans/lentils in large batches and then freeze. If I'm going to freeze them, I like to cook them until barely tender, then I drain them really well, spread them on a baking sheet and freeze them flat, so I can put them in a ziploc freezer bag in a "scoopable" form. That way I can take out just what I need.
You can also put them in freezer bags (leaving about 2/3 air room) right after they're drained, and every hour or so, go in and shake the beans in the bag, so they freeze in scoopable form (this is why you want them a little undercooked, otherwise the bag shaking can squish the beans).
Probably more than you wanted to know, Huh?
06-07-2011, 05:51 PM
Kaplods as always has given you great advice :)
With lentils, as a beginner, using them in soup just like a split pea soup is a good way to start as you want them to fall apart in the tasty broth.
As to beans- I am a "no soaker" and regularly cook my beloved pintos on the stove top. I have used the crock pot but since I do not do it often I do not have the times down well and as noted - lifting that lid really drops the heat. Here is a link to Russ Parsons (LA Times food writer and author) method for 90 minute no soak beans in the oven
06-07-2011, 05:59 PM
Such good advice!! I'm no legume expert, but I have had success with the crockpot method for lentils. Here's my recipe...
06-08-2011, 01:56 AM
I live abroad where I can't get canned beans or lentils and had to learn how to cook them on my own. Good thing too, it's much cheaper, healthier, and better tasting.
I have learned how to use a crockpot, because that's the prevailing cooking utensil of choice here, and am now shocked as to why it's not more commonly used in the US.
Anyway, this is the website I go by for cooking times: http://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cookers/cooking_times_pressure_cooker.php.
Also, if you use a pressure cooker (or even I think if you use a regular pot), put about a tsp of oil in the beans. It helps minimize the froth.
06-09-2011, 06:23 PM
Oh thank you all for your help! We don't have a crock pot but since we invested in these fancy dried beans, we figure we may have to buy one.
I was looking to use the lentils as the base for a "South West Bean Salad" that I love from Whole Foods. I'm close to asking the dudes behind the counter how they prepare them because it's delicious!
Good to know the froth is normal, I freaked the F out!
I will try the oven method in the next few days and update again!
06-15-2011, 09:22 PM
kaplods! thank you so much for that link... the oven method is the only way I was able to get the legumes to revive! you're my legume hero!